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Customer Service: The Root of the Matter

Director of Content Sal Alfano talks about what remodelers can learn from his customer service experience at the dentist.

August 05, 2015

Nobody likes dental work. I’m less averse than most, but I need a dental implant, which is to a root canal as a root canal is to having your teeth cleaned. I know because this is not my first one.

Because my insurance plan has changed, my dentist recommended a new specialist, and I called for an appointment. The phone rang four times before I heard a lackluster voice deliver an obviously canned greeting. I explained that I’d been referred for an extraction and implant and named my dentist. With no acknowledgement that he’d ever heard of my dentist, he went straight to offering a day two weeks out. I accepted, then tried to engage him a bit more by asking if this would be a preliminary appointment. He just said no, the doctor would do the procedure that day. After one more unsuccessful attempt to pry more engagement from him, we said our goodbyes.

I was uneasy. Remember, this is not my first implant. I know how it goes. I know, for example, that I need to fill several prescriptions in advance of the appointment, one for an antibiotic I need to take beforehand and one for a pain killer and a mouth rinse I will need afterward. I also know that, depending on the anesthetic, I may need to arrange for someone to pick me up. And I know that before he starts the procedure, the doctor needs to know that I take a blood thinner.

I am what you would call an informed implant consumer. So the lack of engagement bothered me for all of the next week. Finally, four days before the appointment I decided to call again. I was going to volunteer nothing and wait to see if, now that the appointment date was closer, he would ask me more questions and volunteer more information about preparation. If he didn’t, I was prepared to cancel the whole thing.

I dialed, but instead of hearing the same lackluster greeting from the person I’d talked to last time, I got an energetic hello from someone completely different. Her voice was bright and “smiling” through the phone. Her manner was simultaneously friendly and funny and business-like. She knew my dentist well and quickly found my referral. Her energy clearly came through, and it was obvious that she loved her job. She passed the compulsory part of the exam as well, by asking all of the right questions and setting up all of the necessary prescriptions. Talking with her not only dispelled my misgivings but had me looking forward to the implant.

I don’t know who answers your phone, or how your project foreman interacts with clients, or whether your employees engage with your clients’ neighbors. But I do know that these days, everyone is an informed consumer. They’ve done the research and have high expectations. Even if they’ve never remodeled before, they’ve had many experiences like mine and they are more than ready to “cancel the appointment.”

If you are going to wow them and make them feel that having their house torn up for the better part of six weeks or longer is something to look forward to, you need to deliver something special from the first hello.

Otherwise, you become their root canal. PR




About the Author

About the Author

Sal Alfano is executive editor for Professional Remodelersal.alfano@gmail.com, 202.365.9070

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